Quit Playing Games

Chapter 83

White room and lots of pain.

The pain sucked, but with that décor she was obviously in a hospital, so maybe she could get some relief.

She tried to sit up, but an explosion of pain along her right side made her eyes water and left her gasping. Lying still seemed the best course of action.

"Awake are you? Good. I'll let the doctor know."

Before she had even had a chance to react the nurse, whom Kat hadn't even seen, bustled out of the room. A young Asian doctor opened the door moments later, walking briskly over to the bed.

"And how are you feeling?" he chirped with a wide smile.

She supposed it was meant to be reassuring, but frankly it came off so fake she just wanted him to leave so she could die in peace. "Like a truck hit me," she replied petulantly. "Could someone tell me that the hell is going on? Where's Nick?" She instructively tried to sit up again and, just as predictable, fell back against the pillows with a quick scream.

"Now, now, don't stress yourself," he said reassuringly. "You've been through a lot of bouncing around recently."

She was definitely going to club him. Just as soon as she could move without pain. "Yes, I have, so tell me what I want to know," she snapped. "Where is Nick and what is going on?"

The doctor sighed. Just what he needed: another recalcitrant patient. "He is fine. Now, let's talk about you."

"Fine, how?"

Another deep sigh. "Mr. Carter is in orthopaedics getting his leg seen to. Look, I can't give you any more information about his or the other gentleman's conditions. Perhaps one of the people waiting outside can. However, they will have to continue waiting until I have had a chance to look you over and check your vitals."

Other gentleman? What the… Kat opened her mouth to ask, but the look of annoyance on the man's face told her it was better that she didn't say anything. She rolled her eyes and bit her tongue and let the doctor look her over. The diagnosis was apparently the same as what he had figured out before: she had a mild concussion and had dislocated her right shoulder (which explained the pain).

Okay, so how the hell had that happened?

The doctor rambled on. Her shoulder was back where it should be now, but there was always the risk of more damage to it. He was going to send someone in to pack some ice around it, to bring down the swelling. He could prescribe some pain medication, however because of the concussion he'd prefer not to just yet. Did she mind continuing without anything for a little while? To be on the safe side?

Yes, she minded very much, but he was asking it as a rhetorical question and had no intention of handing over some Tylenol or Darvocet for or whatever. Not even an aspirin to help get rid of the whopping headache she had.

The concussion would explain her headache, he said, and then smirched, as well as her irritability. She wanted to tell him she was irritable because he was being a jerk and not telling her what was going on, but she was sure he'd just give her some lecture and that would slow his exit from the room - and the arrival of whoever was waiting outside. The whoever who had some form of explanation.

He said he would send a nurse back in regularly to check on her, and that would have to continue for the next a number of hours. Apparently someone had been waking her up every hour for the last several hours but she had no recollection of that. Dr. Smarty-pants said that was to be expected. She had been in shock when the paramedics got to her and that, coupled with the concussion meant that she had probably sustained some mild amnesia.

He asked if she remembered being in a car accident. The question startled her. Was that what had happened? She tried hard to remember something then shook her head (which set it to pounding). Okay, so no sitting up OR shaking her head.

With a put-upon sigh he showed her the call buttons and pointed out the bed control (she couldn't sit up, but her bed could do it for her). And he promised that if there were no other complications she be able to leave the hospital soon. And with a pain medication prescription. Thank god for small wonders!

And then, finally, he said he would send someone in immediately.

Someone being Brian.

"Okay, so could someone tell me what the hell is going on?" she started as soon as his head popped through the door. "Why am I here? Why is Nick in wherever it is that Dr. No-Bedside-Manner said?" She knew she was whining. Who wouldn't be?

Brian sighed and pulled a chair over to sit beside her. "Was actually hoping you could answer that. All I know is that you and Howie were in a car accident and Nick and Jay were somehow involved. Nick smashed his leg up pretty bad: they have him in a cast and were talking about having him all done up with that traction stuff. Howie is still in surgery, and Jay is banged up pretty bad, but he, at least, is walking wounded."

Kat stared at him slackjawed. "How… how did all that happen?"

"Again with the 'hoping you could tell me'." He heaved a sigh. "How are you doing?"

She shrugged, ignoring the throbbing in her head. "Like crap. A car accident? How was I in a car accident? All I remember was doing laundry... and then…" She frowned, trying hard to catch that elusive thread of memory that was there, just out of reach. "I remember Howie coming in while I was folding…" Her memory of the most recent past was very blurry but her memory of Howie and his actions were crystal clear. She turned to Brian and, well, lied. "I don't know why."

He looked at her, his eyes catching hers and holding them until she looked away. "You're lying. And normally I'd let it go, but I have one friend unable to walk and another fighting for his life. So I am going to pretend I didn't hear you and ask again: what happened?"

"Honestly, Brian. I don't know. There was some shit going on with Howie… I'm sorry I can't tell you about that. Not without Nick. But about this accident… I don't know what happen." Panic was starting to set in. "Please, what is happening with Nick? And Howie?"

"Like I said, Nick's going to be in traction. It's Howie we have to worry about. He was the worst off out of all of you. Internal bleeding, other damage and stuff. All we know so far is they had to remove his spleen. Like I said, he's still in surgery."

He looked up at her. "They aren't sure he is going to make it." The tears that had started to roll down her cheeks sped up and the next thing she know Brian was holding her, gingerly, while she sobbed hysterically.

"Answers. Now."

Nick opened his eyes wearily, trying to focus on his intruder. "Kevin. Hello to you too." He shut his eyes again. "Man, I don't know what they gave me, but its good shit." He looked at Kevin again. "Do you always have dancing sparkly things around your face?"

"Oh good," Kevin sighed. "Well at least if you are doped up you won't be able to avoid my questions. So could you please tell me what the hell is going on?"

"Pretty sparkles," Nick giggled then frowned. "Oh. They aren't pretty any more. All dark and angry. What did you do?"

"It's not me, it's you. You aren't answering me and it's pissing me off."

Tears started to slowly trickle down Nick's face. "Make the bad sparkles go away."

Kevin groaned, his head falling into his hands. Even drugged to the gills Nick was managing to avoid his questions.

Hearing about the car accident from some hack reporter pushing a microphone in their face as they exited the studio had not been a pleasant experience. And muscling their way through a small, but determined, group of fans when he, Brian and AJ arrived at the hospital hadn't been much better. One second they'd been arguing over vocal solos, the next they'd been informed that two of their members were in serious condition at the hospital. By the time they had arrived - and seriously, how the heck did fans find out this stuff before the Boys did? - the information had changed to one patient in surgery and listed as critical, one still listed as serious, one with minor but touchy injuries, and one with just beat up a little.

And all four of them were of the "Backstreet family" persuasion.

The three Boys had descended on Jay, demanding answers. And the guy had stonewalled them. Admittedly he was in a lot of pain with a broken forearm - which apparently he had made worse by pulling Howie away from a burning car - and a whole whack of cuts, burns and scrapes, but he could have at least told them how it all happened. The most they could get out of them was that Howie and Jeanne were in one car, the one crashed, and he and Nick had been chasing them in Jay's car. And more and all Jay would say was, "ask Nick or Jeanne. I can't tell you anymore." What the fuck was going on?

Brian was working on getting answers from Jeanne while AJ continued to harangue Jay. He had elected to take on Nick, hoping that his role as 'father figure' to the group, and Nick, would be able to intimidate a truthful response.

The little fucker just wasn't playing along. Couldn't they have given him some sort of truth serum along with all the other drugs they had obviously filled him full of?

He sighed again, then grabbed the chair near the door and dragged it over to Nick's bedside. "Okay, Nick. I won't be so angry. Is that better?" he asked quietly.

Nick looked at him blearily. "Not a pretty, but not so mean." He yawned widely. "Sleepy now."

"I'm sure you are. Want to tell me why?"

Nick yawned again, his jaw cracking a little. "Fell down a hill. Mean hill. Just wanted to catch up and mean hill made me hurt. Leg hurts," he whined.

Kevin glanced at Nick's leg, which was thickly wrapped in a cast and held up at an angle by the traction setup. The doctor said he'd be stuck in that thing for a while. And then face weeks in physical therapy. "Yeah, I bet it does, buddy."

"Stinky hurts. Heard it break. Pop! Nasty hurt." Nick yawned again, his eyelids drooping down.

"Wish I could make the hurt go away, Nick. Wish I could make Howie's go away too." Kevin glanced at the clock. He wondered if Howie was still in surgery. The doctors had been more than a little cautious when they talked about his condition. That alone had scared the crap out of him, Brian and AJ. AJ was seriously freaking out. He'd known Howie almost his entire life and the thought of anything bad happening to him… well, Kevin was sure if anyone could get Jay to talk it would be AJ. He and Jay had been close for years - Jay had even been AJ's bodyguard for a while. And AJ knew most of the bigger man's 'buttons' and would be more than willing to push as many of them as possible.

"Howie mean. Going bad things. Have to stop him. Make him not hurt Kat," Nick muttered.

Kevin's ears perked up. "Howie's doing what? What cat? What happened, Nick? Tell me."

"Bad Howie. Hurt Leighanne. Can't hurt my Frick. Hurt me too. Mean punch." Nick's voice was fading out as he gave into exhaustion.

"Howie hurt Leighanne? And Brian? What are you talking about?"

"Don't hurt Kat! No hurting, my Kat." Nick's eyes shot open as he spoke, then closed again.

"Nick, you don't have a cat. What do you mean?"

Kevin's question was met with a loud snore. Nick had finally succumbed to sleep.

And he hadn't given him any answers. Just raised more questions.

Chapter 84